The Signs of the Times.
In the wake of the catastrophe in Japan, I saw many people on twitter, facebook, and even in person claim: “Jesus is coming very soon.” Or: “the world is coming to an end”
I understand these claims to a degree. The bible does state that in the “end days” there would be Wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines, etc. So of course whenever there’s an earthquake or a war breaks out, its automatically the end times.
Do we live in the end of days? Maybe. But how long is the “End of Days”? Are these literally “days” or “months” or “years”?
We as Christians miss the point of the signs of the times. Think about it logically: There have been earthquakes since the dawn of time. It’s the planet itself shifting and moving. There have been floods, hurricanes, famines, etc. These are not new events. We’ve missed the point entirely.
Without getting theological and have a debate about when the End Times are, we will concentrate on one passage. Mark chapter 13.
I could pull a lot of verses out of context here, so we will have to look at the whole passage to get its meaning
1And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!
2And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
3And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,
4Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?
Of course the disciples were curious about the end of days, as we all are. It’s human nature to want to know what’s going to happen. We can make preparations.
5And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:
6For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
7And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.
The first ‘sign’. Wars. I like how Christ puts this here: “be ye not troubled…for such things must needs be; but the END SHALL NOT YET BE.”
Wars have always existed. Ever since Cain raised his hand against his brother, man has proven it cannot live in peace with each other.
8For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.
Notice he says the “beginnings of sorrows.” Earthquakes have always scared us. They are most commonly quoted “disaster” to mark the end of times. But again, earthquakes have been happening since the dawn of time. They are nothing new.
9But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.
10And the gospel must first be published among all nations.
It’s obvious that the reason Jesus has not returned is that he believes that the Gospel has yet to reach everyone. That’s the main purpose for our existence. The Gospel.
He also states there will come a time when we will be beaten and killed for our religion, and that this too shall be a sign. Ever since the days of the first Christians, we have been mocked, beaten, and killed. We as Americans don’t think about such things, but right now Christians are suffering in His name. They always have, they always will.
Its here that I believe Christ switches gears and starts talking about what happens AFTER the rapture of the church; after His Gospel is published.
11But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.
12Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.
13And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
14But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:
15And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house:
16And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.
17But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
18And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.
19For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.
20And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.
21And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:
22For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
23But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.
24But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,
25And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.
26And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.
27And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.
28Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:
29So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.
30Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.
31Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
Definitely some scary times ahead for those in the tribulation but I don’t pretend to understand all that will happen, and will not waste precious time with idle speculation.
I can imagine wide-eyed disciples looking at Christ about now. Again, they are wondering why Christ hasn’t really answered their question about WHEN these things would happen.
32But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
I always go to this verse when people preach doom and gloom and the end days.
Was Christ pulling some joke on them? Was he giving them signs and then saying the signs don’t apply? No. He was driving a point that I think the majority of Christians miss.
Since earthquakes, famines, wars, etc have all been happening for a long time, we wants you to know that he can come back at any time. As he says in the continuing verses:
33Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
Here’s the point! Watch and pray because you don’t know! Christ wasn’t being mean. The disciples wanted signs, so he gave them signs. The signs applied to all generations. And that’s the point. He could come at any time.
34For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.
35Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:
36Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
37And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
Those verses give me chills, but also hope. God’s got us.
There will be disasters. There will be tsunamis. There will be earthquakes. There will be wars.
Live your life. Donate to the Red Cross for relief efforts. Give the homeless guy on the street a few bucks and the Gospel. Help those in need.
Hug your children. Tell those people in your life how you really feel about them. Every disaster should be another reminder that Christ could come at ANY time. Don’t fall for some doomsday preacher because Christ himself said that NO ONE knows.
So the next time a disaster strikes, take a deep breath. Relax and know that God has not forsaken us. He may come today. He may come tomorrow. He may come in 1000 years. He knows when, so leave that to Him.
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Aaron Bronander is the writer of Christians First blog, which was founded to bring the Christian name back to relevance. Aaron and I met several years back when we both attended the same Bible college in Tennessee. He’s a great Christian guy who wants to serve the Lord – I always appreciate him sharing his opinion with me on important issues.